When is Your War Room: What to Do 14 Days Before Trial

By this point, you should have reservations for your hotel rooms, your office space, and your equipment. With the exception of your travel arrangements (see below), you should very much be in the “crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s” stage of planning. In other words, it’s time to:


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Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing Published in The Jury Expert

Here at the Art of Trial Sciences, we are pleased to announce that our latest article, Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing, has been published by The Jury Expert.

Consultant David Mykel’s  “3 Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing” was recently published in the new issue of The Jury Expert.  The Jury Expert is the preeminent national publication on jury research and litigation communication in the country. Developed by the American Society of Trial Consultants, its goal is to bring the latest in research, skills, and strategy regarding how the legal profession tries cases.  Being a peer-reviewed publication, The Jury Expert is a collection of articles from the foremost professionals in the field, and VisuaLex is happy to be among them.

To understand why clients turn to us for presentations in high exposure matters, go here:



When Should Lawyers Use Big Words?

It’s a deceptively simple question, and I imagined the answer was either “yes” or “no”, perhaps with caveats depending on the type of case or the make-up of the jury or some other variable I would soon discover. In fact, the answer is far more complex and, I think, more interesting.

First though, it’s important to explain what I mean by “big words.” Legal discourse is so different from standard English (or any other language) that it has its own name: legalese. Legalese is an arcane portmanteau that borrows words from Latin and the far reaches of several other contemporary (and even borderline extinct) languages.

by Adam Alter, Ph.D. from New York University Stern School of Business

More about sounding smart with sounding stodgy here:


Three Critical Components in Litigation Graphic Design That You’re Not Doing

As litigators, we are standing at the edge of another revolution in trial advocacy. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the technology revolution transformed courtrooms around the country into multi-media presentation theaters. The next revolution is going to ensure that audiences are just as engaged as they are at an IMAX: prepare for the Visual Revolution. With almost 70% of the population being visual learners (Deza, Michel Marie & Elena (2009), Encyclopedia of Distances, Springer) and more and more people getting their information from the internet (49% according to Pew Research Center for the People & the Press), the threshold is near. Knowing this, each and every case that comes through a modern courtroom needs to be told in a visually compelling manner that turns complex facts into a clear and coherent story.

We are dealing with a different breed of audience; one that embraces technology, spends 141 hours in front of a television, and 41 hours a month online (A2/M2 Three Screen Report, Nielsen Media. Vol. 5, 2Q, 2009.). Our audience is pioneering this Visual Revolution and we too need to make this transition by creating an engaging story using multimedia tools to meet the ever changing needs of this modern, visual, and “instant information” culture. The more effective your courtroom presentation is, the more persuasive your argument is going to be, and the easiest way to accomplish this is with a visual framework and strategy.

In my twelve-year career as a litigation consultant, I have witnessed numerous graphics that have not embraced this ever-changing culture’s wants and needs. I have reviewed and critiqued countless visuals that have been carelessly laid out and unintentionally colored, while scrutinizing others that were difficult to read and even more difficult to understand. Visuals have departed from their original, intended purpose of telling a cohesive visual story and have become glorified word processing or a mix of improperly laid out, poorly selected images with an obscene election of colors.

In this day and age of “web-based learners,” our communication strategy needs to be structured and adhere to the same concepts to which our audiences are exposed daily. This article will demonstrate how to implement easy-to-follow tactics into your next presentation and take your communication to the level your audience expects.

Properly Placed Titles and Subtitles in Consistent and Prominent Areas

Placing titles and subtitles in the same spot every time teaches your audience where to look whenever a new visual is introduced. The overwhelming majority of the population reads left to right and top to bottom. Beginning your title in the upper left-hand corner takes full advantage of how your audience learns and educates them where to expect something important to be located. Placing your title and subtitle, which should also be your takeaway, in this strategic position ensures that your audience sees and understands the context and the theme of the graphic first, before other aspects are viewed and considered. We recommend creating two to three template variations that allow for horizontal and vertical positioning of the title and subtitle to accommodate different types of information. Creating a few templates allows more latitude in choosing the best layout to display a variety of documents, images, charts, etc., yet still focuses your audiences’ attention to the same location for your theme (i.e. takeaway).

A client on a recent case, commented that “a good demonstrative, can immediately convey a message in a single look,” and in our experience, nothing makes this easier than a perfectly worded and placed title.


Consistently Formatted Text, Data, and Images

Adhering to the same principles above, it is a smart practice to consistently format text, data, and images. Effective presentations should always support two principles: education and persuasion. Just as we are educating our audiences about our case, we are also aiding/training them to recognize the visual structure of the presentation by teaching the viewer to “know” where to look for important points. Conversely, if you constantly shift where important text, data, and images appear your audience will become confused as to whether or not this data is meaningful, leaving it up to them to decide. Remember, if you don’t show your audience how to assess what is important to your case, they will do it for you, and the result may not be what you wanted or intended.

Presenting information in this fashion enables both presenters and readers to readily ‘find’ critical data during testimony. As communication experts, we know individuals are more likely to be emotionally and/or logically tied to a decision when they themselves have reached it, compared to when another party determines it for them.


Consistent Application of Color in Diagrams, Icons, Labels, and Backgrounds

Since color plays a vital role in our everyday psychology, it would be irresponsible if we ignored it in our presentations. Color has the ability to influence our feelings and emotions in a way that few other mediums can. Color is a catalyst for affecting human mood, behavior, thinking, and rationale. Color invokes emotions, which is why marketing gurus have been integrating color into their strategies for centuries. Do you think the Coca Cola cans have remained red for decades by accident? If you’re thoughtlessly mixing colors throughout your presentation, you may end up unintentionally influencing your audience in the wrong direction.


When creating presentations for our clients, our consultants use blue or green, since it represents honor, trust, and calmness to identify our side of the case. We use the most emotionally intense color, red, for our opposition, because it represents danger and caution. By assigning a consistent color to the parties in a case, we ensure that each side is easily discernible and the point-of-view we’re advocating is clearly drawn.


Color can not only be used to differentiate parties, but also to help focus your audience on key information within a graphic. When trying to call attention to something, we utilize yellow highlighting (associated with liveliness and energy) to focus our audience’s concentration and let them know “hey, this is important.”


Colors can be a powerful tool to entice and engage your target audience and when used in a decisive manner, can be the difference between a visual that persuades and a visual that confuses or distracts.


You may notice something “consistent” about these points. Consistency in your strategy, your communication, and your presentation should go hand-in-hand. Grabbing your audience’s attention is not simply about communication processes; it is a strategic necessity, and the only true way to do this, is by investing as much time in your visual framework as you invest in your strategy. You could craft the most persuasive themes ever uttered in a courtroom but if you present them in a convoluted and unorganized manner, your case will fall short of your desired verdict. Think of it this way: What good is the perfect oratory presentation if your audience is deaf? Remember, nearly 70% of the population are visual learners, so we need to ensure we are addressing our audience’s wants and needs at THEIR level, not OURS.

After completing hundreds of post-trial interviews with jurors, one thing is clear: if we don’t supplement our case strategy with compelling, deliberately well-crafted visuals, our audience will be distracted and tune-out, forgetting our themes and dismissing the merits of our case. Following these simple, yet imperative rules will ensure your audience stays engaged throughout your presentation and empowers them to advocate your themes throughout deliberations and verdict.

David W Mykel is a Litigation Communications Consultant with VisuaLex, LLC, a litigation and graphics consulting firm located in New York City serving clients nationwide for over 25 years. Mykel assists clients on high exposure matters where he leverages his litigation experience and background in psychology in order to develop communication and presentation strategies that drive verdicts. From interviewing thousands of jurors and logging countless hours in the courtroom, Mr. Mykel has developed a unique perspective that allows him to utilize the tenets of art and the methodologies of science in order to create litigation graphics and presentation strategies that resonate with both jurors and judges.

Follow the Ten Commandments of Graphics Use in Trial

Effective trial presentation is an art, and litigators should use every effective tool at their disposal to practice and hone that art. But when the techniques call attention to themselves is when “art” becomes “artiface.” Some would point to this example and say, “See! This is what happens when litigators wed themselves to PowerPoint and other presentation crutches in opening and closing.” But the problem in this case is not the use of visuals and PowerPoint, but the way they’re used. As with anything that happens in a courtroom, graphics in trial need to be used by attorneys with some good sense and some taste. The “goofery” this juror, Jean Black, perceived got me thinking about the larger point: What are the conditions for the sane and responsible use of imagery in courtroom presentations? So drawing from this example, and also going a bit beyond it, here is my quick list of the top ten commandments for trial graphics.

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

Find the commandments here:



Ban the Bullet (From Your Slides)

….my focus is on something less deadly in the literal sense, but more deadly to chances of good visual communication: bullet points in your PowerPoint presentation. Using bullets can seem like a simple way to walk the audience through your argument, but it isn’t, and the approach actually impedes understanding. We’ve written before (here and here) to join a rising chorus criticizing presenters’ reliance on bullet points. Despite this, walk into most courtrooms, mock trial presentation rooms, or CLEs and you’ll see presenters who keep using bullets like they’ve got an unlimited magazine.  One reason for this might be that the message hasn’t fully gotten out yet. Another reason, though, might be that bullets are simply easy for the speaker (both at the preparation and presentation stages) and the lure of having one’s own speaking notes on the screen can lead presenters to put their own needs ahead of their audience’s.

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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When is Your War Room: What to Do 90 Days Before Trial

Believe it or not, much of the work for the war room should begin as early as 90 days before the trial, including:

  • Catch up. Do any of the items that we’ve talked about in previous posts (such as creating a Golden Binder, master calendar, and emergency contact list, plus finding out about the court rules that will govern your trial).
  • Organize your internal support team. Make sure everyone knows and clears the appropriate dates for staffing the war room. Start holding periodic meetings of key members of your internal support team, so that everyone knows what has to be done when and by whom.

More information here:


By Chris Ritter


10 Key Things to Know About Social Media and Jury Consulting

jury consulting social media facebook twitter blog

As the jury pool progressively ages and more and more jurors hail from the Facebook generation, it has become utterly crucial for litigators to consider social media in the processes of jury selection, jury consulting and persuasion. The statistics of Facebook’s prevalence alone are astonishing.

  • Facebook has more than one billion members worldwide
  • The average person spends about 12 hours/month on it
  • The average person has 229 friends, but for the 18-34 set, the average is 318
  • The average person creates three pieces of new content every day
  • Fifty percent of all users log in every day
  • Fifteen percent of all users update their own status every day
  • One billion pieces of content are shared every day
  • About one-third of the U.S. population is on Facebook
  • Ninety-eight percent of 18-24 year olds use social media
  • The fastest growing demographic of Facebook users is age 35 and older

As we view social media, we must remember that research has shown that – perhaps surprisingly — most people present their real self, rather than their idealized self, on social media profiles. In court, in contrast, jurors may intentionally put their best or worst foot forward, depending on their agenda.  Thus, social media offers a wealth of data about prospective jurors not evident in court.

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.

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Does the Pitch of Your Voice Impact Audience Perception?

By: Kacy Miller

Imagine you’re sitting in a jury box, and the trial attorney sounds just like Morgan Freeman. Or James Earl Jones.  Or Matthew McConaughey.  Or even Kathleen Turner or Judi Dench.

Then imagine that we can clone that attorney and make a “twin” who is 100% identical in look, style, demeanor, presentation, diction– everything but for the pitch of voice. One is a baritone and the other, a tenor.

Who do you think the audience would deem more trustworthy?  More competent?  As the better leader?

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